Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nice Timing

So I decided to do multiple laps up Bald Mountain today. I figured that if I climbed it at least three times my exertions would start to approach the ballpark of a high peak climb.

About two minutes into the first lap I had a morale-dampening bit of equipment failure. The left strap on my pack parted. Upon close inspection it became clear that this was a result of the same defect that had led me to take the pack back to the store for a replacement part when I first bought it. Here's a shot of the right strap which is perfectly sound...

...and here is a picture of the peccant part. Note the distance from the rivets to the snap, and the frayed nylon; the strap has pulled almost completely from the rivets. This caused the Rube Goldberg-esque plastic-snap-and-steel-hoop assembly to take the entire load, which it couldn't handle.

About a third of the way up the mountain, the strap gave way again. Did your intrepid narrator tuck his tail between his legs and slouch toward the trailhead? He did not.

Thankfully I had the presence of mind to buy a few extra feet of nylon strap when I kludged a new heel strap for my left snowshoe the other day, and I included it in my "utility belt" pouch. Today it became a second kludge: I applied the amazingly refined expedient of two granny knots, and the failed strap was replaced.

I must say, this incident confirms my initial impression of the pack: it's way overdesigned. My simple strap seemed quite as effective as the original esoteric assembly of nylon straps, steel hoops, rivets, and plastic clasps.

I continued on, and was quite satisfied with my field repair job. I was not so satisfied with my balance. The pack is still transforming me into a staggering, pratfalling parody of my former snowshoeing self. I fell down a lot, I slid a lot, and I had a much harder time climbing.

The good news is that I seem to be improving along a line of punctuated increase. In other words, today I started out worse than I was at my best yesterday, but I improved radically during the hike so that, by the end, I was probably at my best yet. I fell a lot during the first climb, perhaps twice during the second, and none at all during the third, even though I was naturally very tired by the third lap.

Unfortunately I was too tired and cold, and therefore too invested in getting back down the mountain, to remember to take pictures from the summit. Here are a few from near the bottom which give you a sense of the day.

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